General discussion


Wikipedia in a Death Spiral?

By Dr Dij ·
This fellow seems to think wikipedia is doomed by its core open-access architecture, that it will fall prey to marketers / spammers like the Open Directory Project.

I think Apotheon works there, anyone else have any opinions how this can be avoided? It must be a worthwhile site if Iran has now banned it. I have noticed on my occasional references to it that articles have been restored and locked to prevent vandalism.

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And Email too

by Oz_Media In reply to Wikipedia in a Death Spir ...

Email has been in a downward spiral for many years now. It is abused and misused to the point that people get very frustrated with it, BUT, they still use it and rely on it every day.

Wikipedia is one of the best online tools and global projects ever created. A true collaboration of global information from around the globe, not just a singular viewpoint.

If many people get too frustrated by questionable content and spam, then it will no longer be a place for these attackers to prey sucessfully, thus it will return to being a small open source project.

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by fractalzoom In reply to And Email too

Sorry to sound the cynic here, but I don't agree that after Wikipedia collapses it will be "safe" from spammers - it's a naive assertion that doesn't reflect the way these things work in the real world. It's not the nature of malware or spam for threats to go away after they've peaked. And with its existing architecture, Wikipedia will *always* be vulnerable to abuse once its vulnerabilities are known. The "Big Kids" of the spam world may move on to other targets newer and more enticing, but the "Little Kids" will continue to push Wikipedia around.

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not any longer

by apotheon In reply to Wikipedia in a Death Spir ...

I quit my job with the Wikimedia Foundation in August 2005 when I moved more than a thousand miles away from the data center -- but I did work there before that.

I rather suspect that Wikipedia will be able to resist marketers, simply by keeping up with the state of the art. It's the single largest online open content project in the world, as far as I'm aware, not only in terms of sheer content volume, but in terms of the tremendous number of contributors and regular volunteers. Many of them are some really impressive intellects, and they've kept up with some surprising twists in the maliciousness and general not-playing-well-with-others-ness that has cropped up over the years, pretty much without missing a beat.

The biggest threats to Wikipedia are A) some of the core volunteers and employees, who occasionally do something like type shutdown -h now into the wrong terminal (I'm kidding, mostly) and B) jackasses who have an axe to grind, and end up spending more time than can really be healthy running around prognosticating doom for the project as a whole and otherwise trying to discredit it.

Goldman has been talking about the shortcomings he sees in Wikipedia's operational model for an awfully long time now. I'm not sure whether he has hidebound notions of what does and does not work based on years of precedent set by massive bureaucratic organizations like ivy league universities, cannot imagine how a large project can be flexible and light-footed enough to meet the challenges that face it in the future, or is just jockeying for blogger fame and instant Internet reputation by attacking high-profile targets. Whatever the case, his positions on all things Wikipedian are pretty predictable in their negativity at all times.

Don't take anything he says about Wikipedia at face value. Reason through it for yourself, come to your own conclusions, and don't take his statements as any kind of authoritative analysis to support your conclusions (unless, perhaps, they relate to his core competencies in law somehow).

What the heck does a law professor -- an academic dedicated to a field entirely unrelated to the factors in Wikipedia's potential success or failure -- know about it, anyway? While you shouldn't disregard what he has to say just because his core professional skillset is not related, the fact that the article in question (along with other, earlier articles about him in relation to Wikipedia) uses his position as a law professor to try to impart a sense of authority on him is just absurd and, frankly, dishonest.

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Well reasoned

by Dr Dij In reply to not any longer

Didn't sound like it was going to happen, the spam / marketers arms race continues, and orgs, companies figure out how to cope.

This discussion then ends up being a kind of wiki-like consensus of whether this guy was out in left field. Even more bizarre predictions have happened such as 'demise of the PC', and Gartner's rant about old people in IT.

Thanks for the reply

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quite welcome

by apotheon In reply to Well reasoned

Predictions of the imminent doom of Wikipedia keep sounding suspiciously like the legendary IBM prediction that there would one day be a world market for five computers. Five.

Yeah. I'm not too worried about Wikipedia right now.

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A lot of people would like some of that death spiral

by hhall1001 In reply to Wikipedia in a Death Spir ...

I just looked up the current rankings for Wikipedia. It is the 11th most popular site on the web. It has climbed to 11 from 15 in just the last three months. Death spiral?

DMOZ is being made irrelevant by it's own editors. Its traffic rank is trending downward but it is ranked as number 220 and that is still a super star.

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Wikipedia is trash

by Dr_Zinj In reply to Wikipedia in a Death Spir ...

Oh, don't get me wrong, there is a core of correct information on it, and it's not bad as a site that gives you a condensation of things to research a topic on.

But that's just it. It should NEVER be your end source for the information. Everything you find there MUST be independently confirmed elsewhere.

The nature of Wiki is that anyone can add junk, spam, errors, etc to a posting. A thousand opinions do not equal a single fact. And worse, actual facts entered by authoritative sources mysteriously disappear from Wikipedia. Don't beleive me? Go ask Dr Jerry Pournelle about corrections he's submitted on a post about his Pournelle Chart political model.

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Well, that was inflammatory, trollish, simplistic, and uninformed.

by apotheon In reply to Wikipedia is trash

"It should NEVER be your end source for the information. Everything you find there MUST be independently confirmed elsewhere."
. . . just like any other encyclopedia in the world. So?

"The nature of Wiki is that anyone can add junk, spam, errors, etc to a posting."
The nature of Wikipedia is that the vandals are greatly outnumbered by well-meaning editors and built-in tools for monitoring large numbers of pages for POV and malicious edits make it trivial to counteract the negative effects of edit access by the general public.

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Rumors of Wikipedia's Death Greatly Exaggerated

by EjayHire In reply to Wikipedia in a Death Spir ...

Rumors of Wikipedia's Death have been greatly exaggerated.

Please forgive me for borrowing Mr. Twain's quote, but Wikipedia is far from the sorry state of a "death spiral". Wikipedia has consistently found ways to address the problems they face and simultaneously maintain or increase their openness. ODP responds in the opposite manner by reducing the power of the public at large. This is a fundamental difference. Automated tools and human effort will continue to drive the usefulness and utility of Wikipedia.

Eventually this approach will be borrowed by a commercial search engine, and tiny "this is junk" and "this is irrelevant" buttons will appear next to search listings. Enough clicks will drive a page out of the top ranks.

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Search listings idea is flawed

by Danno3 In reply to Rumors of Wikipedia's Dea ...

Adding 'this is junk' or 'this is irrelevant' options to listings would fail. Imagine a competitor simply auto-generating 'this is junk' or 'this is irrelevant' clicks against a higher-placed listing. Even if the search engines had a way of detecting such automation, then spoofing the IP would probably defeat that.

Does Wikipedia have any automation protection, such as requiring manual confirmation of a obscured text-image code, common on many secured sites? If not, then the spammers will win even sooner than than the predicted time.

So far, I have found Wikipedia to be quite useful and the spam content somewhat minimal, but unfortunately, on the increase. I agree with others who have posted that one must independently verify info.

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